First class of Chinese scholars earning Healthcare MBA.

Many firsts are happening for a group of Chinese health management students studying in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU).

The thirteen students from Southern Medical University (SMU) in Guangzhou, ranked as one of the top medical universities in China, arrived in the fall of 2011 as the first SMU class to pursue their Healthcare MBA (HCMBA) at FIU. Graduation will take place in August 2012, shortly before a second group of SMU students, totaling 28, arrives.

The two universities entered into an agreement in 2010 for this dual degree program. The HCMBA provides the knowledge and skills necessary for management careers in health services organizations.

Yan Li
Yan Li

Other firsts for the students include, for many, traveling to the United States.

For all, new classroom and learning experiences are proving enjoyable.

“At FIU, students speak with the professor in class, work together on projects and make presentations,” said Yan Li, who plans a career in hospital administration. “In China, you listen in class and then take an exam.”

Community visits with health providers are bringing new knowledge.

“I get to see how spacious and efficient United States hospitals are,” Yingbo Cao said. “Most of all, I am impressed with the humanity at the hospitals. Administrators, staff and medical personnel really care about patients.”

Yingbo Cao
Yingbo Cao

“The SMU dual degree students’ eagerness to learn about our health delivery system was apparent from the beginning,” said Nancy Borkowski, director, Health Management Programs.

She added that in addition to visiting health providers’ facilities, students also attend professional associations’ networking and educational programs.

Students benefit from a well-rounded education.   

“In addition to providing the ‘technical’ components of the degree, we’re coaching the students on their communication skills in conjunction with accent reduction classes,” Borkowski said. “We’re also helping them improve their writing, research and oral presentation skills.”

“I have even learned new table manners,” said Cao, whose future plans are to be a healthcare provider entrepreneur.

Students expressed appreciation for how faculty and staff are helping them navigate their studies and adapt to American life.

“Professors are so patient with us,” Li said.


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